Super Tiny Homes: How Much Space Do you Need?

The American home has almost doubled in size since the 1970s. In response, Huffington Post is running a cool compendium of photos and video on ultra-compact living spaces.

I spent part of last night browsing through the different homes. Smart design can turn incredibly small spaces (some under 100 sq. ft.) into attractive and livable spaces. (Well most of them looked livable, I had my doubts about one of two.) But more than that, the videos are worth a watch to see the reasons people give for choosing to downsize their lives. Here is one of my favourites:



Less House = More Life
Smaller houses are environmental darlings because they are more efficient and allow you to add density to existing neighbourhoods (some great examples from Vancouver here). But none of the owners and builders seem primarily driven by environmental considerations. Financial independence (read, not having a mortgage) was one of the main drivers, along with the desire to spend less time cleaning and tending to the clutter that accumulates in a big home. "Less house = more life" seemed to be the argument that many small-house owners were making.

The whole way through, if found myself asking, "could I live in that space?" It definitely goes against the bigger is better approach that has taken America by storm, inflating average house sizes in the US to 2,330 sq.ft. (in 1970 it was 1,400). Canada on the other hand averages at 1800 sq.ft. (in 1975 1,075). Japan currently averages at 1310 sq.ft. So the question is, how much home do you really need?

Comments

2 Responses to "Super Tiny Homes: How Much Space Do you Need?"

Chrystal Ocean said... 19 January 2010 at 10:58

Nice to see someone else who is with Progressive Bloggers blogging about tiny houses! Feels like I've been all alone in Canada, hitting my head against a brick wall trying to get heard on the issue.

There's no shortage of great ideas in terms of tiny shelter. The only thing preventing such easy solutions to the housing shortage for low-income people is NIMBYism and the municipal laws that support it.

Alex Aylett said... 19 January 2010 at 16:57

Hi Chrystal, thanks for commenting. I really liked your own coverage of the small homes movement. Especially the ww.thetinylife.com blog and your critique of the tumbleweed house that I posted [http://tiny.cc/5AzP0].

You are right to say that these homes need to be affordable, not just cute. Smaller homes for smaller budgets can definitely challenge some peoples prejudices and perceptions of their neighbourhoods (or backyards.

I'm a strong supporter of mixed-use, mixed income housing.

About




This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.